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Friday, October 14, 2005

Speaking of TPS*...

So, there I was, just posting away and trying to make sense of all the clutter in my head and how I felt about the trouble in Trinidad and Tobago when it dawned on me to ask, "Hey, what's a bowl of TPS worth these days? And after some research, all thanks to Google and their amazing find-any-goddamn-thing search engine, I found that the price had stayed pretty consistent. Then, of course, I realized that those articles were from a couple of years ago. But soon enough I found another, more recent source which seemed to say the same things as these previous sources. Quick analysis? Things haven't changed much for the tiger.

The unfortunate thing about TPS is that it automatically gives people an image of this magnificent beast suddenly, and rather unceremoniously, Bobbit-ized. I mean, think of Tony the tiger in that situation? I'll bet his whole "They're Grrreat!" motto wouldn't sound as peppy if he wasn't, oh how shall I say, well hung. But TPS isn't the only thing doing the rounds eh? I mean, what about all the other parts of the tiger? Here are some numbers.

  • Pair of tiger eyes = $175 - $250
  • Raw tiger bone = $140 - $370 per kg
  • Powdered tiger bone = $3,000 - $4,000 per kg
  • Tiger skin = $15,000
Another interesting fact that one study reveals is about 20,000 tigers being bred in captivity in the US specifically for the purposes of being slaughtered. In spite of this, poachers still hunt down the wild tigers. Why? Because there isn't enough tiger penis to go around? Or are they just like these freaky dudes with the world's craziest fetish? the images will haunt me forever.

Which country is a major player/supplier in the tiger parts market? Come on, we don't have to look very far. It's our very own, just-celebrated-58-years-of-independence, Mother India. Well, that's not the only trade we excel in by the way. There is also the trade in human organs...and human beings...or Malayalees and Gujaratis, to be exact. And there's no way to blame the fact that it happens either, because the poacher is often a person who has spent her/his (don't know why I'm being so PC dammit!) life in the jungle, knows their way around and all the tricks of the trade, and very often, is living in abject poverty. Well, funny thing that bit about poverty. That's an idea that the 'outsider' introduced to our tiger-hunting forest-dweller. No, seriously. One fine day, some stanger probably walked up to them with money and crazy notions of civilization and said, "Hey, you guys don't need to be so poor. Follow me. Let me get you out of this dump." And so, with false dreams that made no sense, and visions of grandeur, this poor bloke was lured into doing something that he's very good at. Unfortunately, more often than not, he only sees a fraction of the final market value of the tiger carcass. This is kind of how the human organ trade works too. People fool each other into doing things and then point the finger at each other.

But really, how ridiculous is this notion? And think about what a difference it would make if all the people in these parts were educated, so that they could see the folly of their ways! Are you kidding me?!?!? You think the guy who buys a bowl of soup with bits of tiger penis in it (or however they make it) is not educated, rich, or, quite possibly a foreigner? Education has nothing to do with's all a matter of realizing. Seeing that something in your immediate environment is awry and doing something about it...not compounding the issue.

And, in closing, tell me, what kind of family dish would tiger penis soup be anyway? Imagine that you're a guest at someone's home...the ideal family...a father, a mother, and two kids...let's call them Dana and Jeff. So, you've just arrived and you sit down to socialize before you head for dinner. Dinner is signalled by the mother going into the kitchen and bringing out a lovely large serving bowl full of TPS. All of a sudden, Dana, who is only 4 years old starts tugging on her mommy's dress and says, "Mommy mommy, I want the penis this time coz Jeff got it last time." What would you do? Would you try and make peace by explaining to little Dana that life is cruel and sometimes all you get is the 'shaft'? Or would you jump up and run out on your gracious hosts and their 'piece de resistance'? Why, oh why can't people see the folly of their ways? But who am I to show them, eh? Or should the dispute be settled by giving it to the father. Well, obviously they're going to offer it to the guests first, in which case you'd probably refuse...right? Sure you'll be tempted to touch it and stuff...but put it in your mouth? So you refuse, and then dad, as the now enlightened Dana eagerly points out, will now be the recipient of the 'piece'. You know why, right? Because as head of the family it's up to him to talk cock and do dick-all about it. Hahahaha. Here endeth this lesson. Check out the links. And I love you dad.

*TPS is the acronym for Tiger Penis Soup...and no, please don't give me the Hindi translation for this one Shiva, as funny as it may be. By the way, it costs about $320 a bowl...noodles not included. And I'd watch those noodles if I were you man...seeing as to which part of the body we're dealing with.

1) The Great Indian Tiger Factory (This is the more recent article I talked about)
2) BigCat (This site has lots of info and is one NGO that's committed to saving the tiger)
3) Tigers in Crisis (This site has more interesting information plus a couple of links to other eco-issues)
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